The Government has set ambitions in the Clean Growth Strategy for all homes to be upgraded to EPC band C by 2035 where practical, cost effective and affordable. On the 26th July 2018, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry for Housing and Local Government published a call for evidence seeking views on further trigger points for updating EPCs, as well as seeking wider views on how they could be improved and encourage action to improve energy efficiency. Kingspan Insulation will be feeding into the Sustainable Energy Association’s response to this call for evidence, but throughout this blog series I will set out some of our thoughts on how to improve, enhance and promote EPCs. This blog will focus on an introduction to EPC ratings and how we can improve their validity.
EPC ratings are increasingly being used as part of Government policy programmes for setting aspirational targets for building performance. EPCs were introduced to provide information on a building’s energy efficiency performance (costs and emissions) and to allow consumers to benchmark theoretical performance against that of others. It is important to note, however, that despite including a list of recommended measures to improve energy efficiency ratings, the EPC report is not a retrofit design tool.
EPCs: Improving the validity and representativeness of EPCs
A valid EPC is only required when a home is constructed or put on the market for sale or rent. EPCs also have a lifespan of 10 years, which means that a property can change hands a number of times before a new EPC is needed. A lot can happen over a 10-year period, with changes to the building fabric or the heating not captured until a new report is produced. In addition, over the past 10 years, there have been a number of changes to the underlying assessment methodology, which has increased complexity and altered assumptions around costs and carbon emissions. This means that if a property assessed in 2008 were to be reassessed today, even if no changes have been made to the property, the rating might be different.
To tackle these issues, I would recommend reducing the lifespan of EPCs and increase the triggers for them to be updated. This could also help to address the issue of having a valid but not representative EPC. Additional trigger points might include house moves, re-mortgaging, installing a new heating system, or any other improvements to the building fabric including extensions or other alterations requiring building control approval.